RF Shorts – Nov. 10, 2011

First Nationwide EAS Test Fallout
I didn't do a feature article this week on the first National EAS Test, because it was well covered in articles such as Leslie Simmon's EAS Test Reveals Problems, Successes in Radio World and also in some less technical, more political articles like Phil Elmore's Obama's power to shut you up. There were clearly problems with the test, as described in the article National EAS Test... Maybe Not so Great ... on the All Access Music Group Website.

From what I've seen, some of the issues were due to problems at local stations. I heard of a few cases of the test being ignored due to EAS units being set to the wrong time zone. However, most problems appeared to be caused by issues with distribution to the primary entry point (PEP) stations. There were widespread reports of no audio or bad audio. My local NPR affiliate ran the test a few minutes after the local PBS affiliate properly aired its test. The audio on the PBS station was acceptable, although distorted; however, the local NPR FM affiliate's audio had more hum than voice. My local cable company not only dropped cable channels, but briefly disconnected my Internet access as well. I suspect we'll be seeing another one of these national tests once the problems are sorted out, perhaps after the CAP IP-based delivery system is tested and working.

Dish Eyes Off-air Television Antennas
Cost-cutting consumers may not be the only ones looking to save money by switching to off-air TV. Sam Schechner and Matt Jarzemsky, in the Wall Street Journal article Dish in Talks for Internet TV, Satellite Provider Also Posts Higher Profit but Subscriber Losses (subscription may be required), write, "To save money, the Dish service could also include an antenna to pick up over-the-air broadcasts of major broadcast TV stations, rather than paying them subscription fees, as many cable and satellite companies now do, the people familiar with the discussions added."

Boxee Adding Off-Air "Live TV"
Boxee has become a popular device for households wanting to view Internet TV on their big screens, perhaps as an alternative to cable TV. Janko Roettgers reveals on Gigaom.com, Scoop: The Boxee Box is getting a live TV tuner that "Boxee Box owners will soon be able to watch live television through the device, with the help of a special USB dongle that functions as a tuner for free over-the-air HD TV signals. The live TV feature is part of a major update to the Boxee platform that is likely going to be rolled out over the coming weeks."

He adds, "Boxee users will also be able to access their unencrypted basic cable TV feeds with the live TV dongle, but it's fairly obvious that the company is going to position this as the next big step for cord cutters. Anyone who has tried to juggle live TV and Internet content in the living room knows combining the two is a big deal: Viewers will now be able to watch live and on-demand TV through the Boxee Box without ever needing to switch back and forth between the inputs of their TV set."

Indian Firm Purchases RYMSA
The Economic Times reported last week that Bangalore-based Kavveri Telecom completed its purchase of the RYMSA Telecom Business of Radiacion y Microondas, S.A.. RYMSA is not widely known in the United States, but it has a large market share in Europe and Latin America, and is increasing its market share in the Middle East and other areas of the world. In the United States Micro Communications, Inc. sells RYMSA antennas and combiners.

Australian Radio Astronomy History Article
The Sidney Morning Herald has chronicled the history of radio astronomy in Australia in Tune into great gig in the sky. It notes that "Australia has played an influential role in the study of radio emissions from deep space."

U.K. "Wireless Senders" Block Car Key Fobs Transmissions
In odd news this week, it appears that the "wireless senders" used with U.K. TV set-top boxes are causing interference to car key fob signals, preventing people from opening their cars. See Trapped in the drive by my TV: How set-top boxes are interfering with car key fobs in the Daily Mail. The article says that the wireless devices have the ability to block transmissions from car keyless entry systems, with some 140 cases of persons unable to use the key fob devices being reported in the past year.

VerdictOnCars.co.uk has more information in Wireless TV Senders render key fobs useless. "The £80 devices, which plug into a satellite receiver and transmit television signals wirelessly to other TVs in the house, work on the same frequency as some car key fobs." It went on to report a case in Southampton where a number of residents found their key fob devices no longer worked.

Asteroid YU55 Update
I previously reported on plans to examine asteroid YU55 via radar. The website IO9 has a good summary of the results of that examination project in the article Astronomers release even more images of the asteroid that buzzed Earth. Also see the NASA Press Release NASA Releases Radar Movie of Asteroid 2005 YU55. It has links to a movie of the asteroid along with additional information.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.